RN with past psych probs as psych nurse?

Specialties Psychiatric


Specializes in Psych. Violence & Suicide prevention..

Staff members in every aspect of healthcare have varying degrees of mental "hygeine".

I have run into staff with axisI and II diagnoses. The only time it is a problem is when the staff is in denial of their own issues. This establishes a poor example for the patient. Why should the patient try to change when the healthcare provider doesn't?

Since you are aware of your own issues and have sought help, you will be more effective as a provider.


I am an RN BSN with 6 yrs cardiac post-op experience. I am considering returning to school for a masters in psych but am wondering if it is a smart move--- about 4 yrs ago I experienced significant anxiety/depression after miscarriages--which was successfully treated (outpatient) Then again postpartum this past year. I am on zoloft and consider myself completely recovered---save an occasional manageable symptom. It is this experience that has attracted me to pshch. I find it fascinating and hope that maybe since I've experienced this it would help me to understand how pts. are feeling. OR on the other hand it might just make ME crazy ! Maybe seeing people at their worst would bring out the worst in me? Maybe this would not be a good environment for me? Any opinions or experiences appreciated. Thanks

Hi Rachel,

Your question is an interesting one. I have supervised a number of psych nurses who have experienced mental illness firsthand and their personal circumstances both enhanced and complicated their work. I am intending to do my Masters thesis on this very subject.

I think that the nurses I worked with were amazing psych nurses because of their own experiences. I also know they needed a lot of support to work in the field given their own issues. I would say if it is what you want then go for it but make sure you put good supports in place. ie clinical supervision, the support of your own treatment team, family, friends and colleagues. Best Wishes.

Hi there from New Zealand!

First I think it's really brave of you to go on the net and talk openly about your past difficulties. It's good to see that you're getting good support and reminders that these things are in the past if you want them to be, and are prepared to leave them there.

Don't forget though, that as one of the other nurses has said - you will need to ensure that you have enough support networks in place for the times (and there will be some, believe me!) whne you feel you aren't coping any more.

One other thing it's important to try and remember is not to over identify. Your experiences were exactly that - "YOUR" experiences. Don't think you know what it's like for anyone you work with, because you don't. Every single one of us handles our difficutlies differently.

Given these couple of safeguards, largely for yourself, I think you will do well. All the best for your future.


Specializes in Hospice, Med Surg, Long Term.

My only experience with psych, was an an ofc. nurse in a psychiatrist/counseling ofc. It was an area wide treatment center, not another for 150 miles. We treated alot of children and alot of indigent patients. I only did this for about 8 months several years ago. Would it be difficult for my to get a position in psych with so little experience?

Specializes in Med-Surg, Geriatric, Behavioral Health.

Excellent thread. Let's keep the input coming.

Specializes in Psychiatric, Med Surg, Onco.

First of all....good for you for getting/accepting the help you needed! The brain is the most important organ in the body, but yet, maintaining it's health, and thus the health of every other system in your body, is frowned upon by many. Your experience gives you insight, that those in the field without such experience, lack. Patients know when you genuinely "get it" and when you don't, regardless of MI in past/present. However, it is very important to be aware that working in this field can "trigger" you, usually when you least expect it. Thus, introspection is a vital skill to have to avoid personalization of a patients issues.

I wish you the very best of luck!

Trying it is the only way to find out in my opinion.

If you can stay objective, in control of yourself and not take nasty comments from pts. personal then you're a good candidate for psych nursing whether you have a psych history or not.

If a patient is "losing it" and about to code, you have to stay calm (at least on the outside) you don't want to get sucked into their world and be of no help to the other staff.

Where I worked there was only one nurse that I could say clearly had no business working psych. She was constantly flipping out, scattered brained, ocd, bizzare appearance and crazy fire red hair that looked like she just rolled out of bed :uhoh3:

Whoever hired her should be smacked:trout:

Where I worked there was only one nurse that I could say clearly had no business working psych. She was constantly flipping out, scattered brained, ocd, bizzare appearance and crazy fire red hair that looked like she just rolled out of bed :uhoh3:

Whoever hired her should be smacked:trout:

LOL :lol2: Sounds like you're describing a co-worker of mine LOL

If you are aware of your areas of weakness then you will most likely be OK. The trouble comes when a patient's situation "hits you where you ain't". I have seem this happen to a nurse and it nearly destroyed her. We were working on a women's specialty program and she apparently had childhood sexual abuse she had not dealt with.

Specializes in Telemetry, LTC, Psych.

I am a new RN(BSN) who has a passion for psych. I have a AX 1 diagnosis and I believe that my experiences/breathroughs/recovery will make me a better nurse and person.

I think lots of us have had bouts with depression. I know I did, and like you I took the meds, and got better. The experience caused me to be more understanding when I encounter others with depression. I don't think you should second guess yourself. Go forward and know that you are a better person for the experiences you have successfully navigated.

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